Rio de Janeiro

Trip Start Nov 21, 2008
Trip End May 29, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rio de Janeiro is a city of charm and natural beauty, from the scintillating beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema to the great statue of Christ the redeemer that stands atop Corcovado mountain overlooking the whole city, it exudes an air of passion and style.  To me it feels like a cross between Sydney, with its multitude of coves and waterfronts, and the romantic sensuality of Buenos Aires with that inimitable Latin American feel.  It's just a wonderful place, yes it has a reputation for being dangerous but I've been here for a few days and I haven't seen or felt any sign of trouble and I've been content to wander along the beautiful wide beaches with their soft sand and take in the atmosphere. Rio does have a darker side though, in a city where most of the inhabitants live in areas known as Favelas that are governed by drug lords there are understandably issues, for a start drug abuse and prostitution are rife along with the gang warfare between rival drug lords and the police which claims innocent lives every year.  These issues don't seem to affect the great atmosphere in the city though and the locals in Rio certainly know how to have a good time.  On my first night here I got invited to a house party by some local Brazilian people I met in the pub and spent the evening drinking under the stars on the roof of a hotel chatting to local people, a wonderful start to an incredible week here.  I took a trip to Corcovada mountain at sunset to see the huge statue of Christ which stands atop the peak and affords an glorious view over the whole city and under the pink sky of the fading sun I marveled at the sight of Rio in all its splendour. Like the Argentineans the Brazilians love their football and people playing football can be seen wherever you go.  On the long wide beaches that span the coast at Copacabana and Ipanema there are actually permanent football goals and volleyball nets set in the sand and the beaches are groomed every morning like a ski slope by a tractor.  Even the volleyball "courts" show the Brazilian love for football as the locals will play volleyball not with their hands but with their feet and head like a game of football.  With this in mind I went to catch a game at the Marancana, South America's largest football stadium seating over 110,000 spectators.  Brazilian football defines the sport as "the beautiful game" with a fast pace and stunning skill and flair we were riveted for the whole 90 minutes and left with an understanding of why the South Americans love this game so much.
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